PS3 Reviews: Ridge Racer Unbounded Review

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Ridge Racer Unbounded Review

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Graphics:

 

7.6

Gameplay:

 

7.9

Sound:

 

8.1

Control:

 

7.5

Replay Value:

 

8.0

Online Gameplay:

 

7.7

Overall Rating:       7.8

 

 

Publisher:

Namco Bandai

Developer:

Bugbear Entertainment

Number Of Players:

1-4

Genre:

Racing

I’ve always loved Ridge Racer. I almost always know exactly what to expect. However, Bugbear Entertainment has gone and tossed a wrench into the works; they’ve implemented high-octane, high-intensity moments we’ve experienced in games like Split/Second, and they’ve also upped the overall aggressiveness of the racing. It’s a no-holds-barred, explosive race to the finish, and if it weren’t for some quirky handling, a few amusing glitches, and a steep learning curve, this one would be pure arcade racing gold.

The graphics are decent, although not enough to make me stand up and applaud. The good news is that the designers seem to hit all the right notes when it comes to effects and style; there’s no denying the visual flair and panache. The aforementioned glitches hit the visual presentation as well but they’re not too severe. Some of the environments could’ve been brighter, too, but the vehicles are appropriately brilliant and nicely designed. That being said, you’ll typically be so engrossed in the on-screen action that you won’t have time to minutely dissect every aspect of the graphics (and there's nothing wrong with that).

Like the graphics, the sound is accomplished without being impressive. There’s plenty of solid music to accompany your mad dash through the unpredictable and challenging streets of Shatter Bay, and the audio effects will give you a thrill. The level of destruction – a surprise to me – amps up the sound meter and gives your speakers something to embrace, and although difficult to balance standard racing effects (engine roar, sliding, scraping, etc.) with a consistently crumbling environment, I think Bugbear does a good job overall.

If you’ve played some Ridge Racer games in the past, you might want to toss away any expectations you might have. Perhaps the only remaining common gameplay element is the drift mechanic, but even that is a little different. Ridge Racer Unbounded grabs the term “unbounded” by the throat and just about throttles it; the circuits are absolutely insane and if you can master the slightly fidgety controls, your satisfaction level will be almost unparalleled. Just imagine a mix of MotorStorm: Apocalypse and Split/Second…that’d be pretty accurate.

There are plenty of vehicles to choose from, and they don’t all feel the same (an issue I sometimes encounter when playing non-simulated racers). Vehicles that are heavier and more robust overall will serve you better in particular situations, while you’ll find other uses for the lighter, swifter cars. As for the handling, there’s a lot to talk about; I imagine it’ll be a hot topic of conversation for long-time Ridge Racer fanatics. On the one hand, the drifting – an absolutely essential hallmark of the franchise – is more dynamic, more demanding, and even a bit more realistic.

On the other hand, it takes quite some time to really master and even then, it never feels as if you’re in complete control during a power-slide. That’s the one thing that annoys me. Difficulty level, incredibly aggressive opponents, a challenging driving mechanic; all of that is okay, provided that if I put in the time, I will eventually reach a feeling of stability and security. I just never got to the point where I said, “Okay, I get this” when dealing with the drift in this game, and I’m not sure I ever will. Still, I appreciate the attention paid to this important mechanic.

The only serious flaw facing newcomers is the lack of any real tutelage. Maybe Bugbear was counting on all the hardcore Rdige Racer fans to play the game, but when you’ve altered the driving this much, you kinda need to give ‘em a clue. One of the reasons it takes so long to gain a workable handle on the driving is because you’re just cut loose at the start; most all the clues you’ll receive are some quick tips during the loading screens. And I’m sorry, novice or veteran, this one required a bit more than that. And I don’t even like tutorials.

All that aside, though, once you get a decent handle on the control, you can really focus on the task at hand, and that task can – and often does – involve total demolition. It’s silly fun. Turning an irritating competitor into a flaming pile of scrap metal is just plain awesome, and I love the idea of using your boost bar to bring the entire landscape to the ground. Yeah, it’s not just for the sake of extra speed; the boost can be used to bring buildings tumbling to the ground, and you obtain points for every flashtastic (my word, I’m patenting it right now) piece of demolition.

The various modes only bring out this game’s zany atmosphere; taking a look at what’s available in the menu, one might be tricked into thinking he’s gonna play a shooter. The only clue that this is a racing game is the Drift Attacks but beyond that, there’s Frag Attack and Domination and well, I’m a little shocked to see such terminology in a racing game. Not that I’m complaining, mind you. Domination focuses on destruction, Frag Attack involves you taking down your competitors, and none of it ever seems to get boring. The only problem is that with Drift Attack, those drift idiosyncrasies are emphasized, which can be extremely vexing.

The diversity of the racetracks is also much appreciated, as you’ll always be traveling to new locations and tearing sh** up. Then there’s the multiplayer, which offers another twist as you can fiddle with track creation and customization, and then challenge others to play your own invention. However, here too is another issue, as this system isn’t intuitive enough and somewhat difficult to use. At the same time, much like the gameplay itself, once you’ve got the hang of it, there’s plenty of fun to be had. You just have to be both patient and imaginative.

Ridge Racer Unbounded demands a lot of from the player. You must have the patience and skill to really get the most out of it, although some will say this is the way games should be. The lack of any real direction, the somewhat loose control, and the hitches and glitches can damage the experience, but if you love blasting through destructible terrain, laying waste to everything in sight (including your opponents), and you can really get a hold on the driving, you’re almost guaranteed to have a blast.

The Good: Engrossing presentation. Cool design and track variety. Destroying the landscape and taking out other racers = mad fun. Entertaining game modes. High satisfaction and reward level. In-depth track creation.

The Bad: Control is a little off and hurts accessibility. Lack of tutorial/direction. Awkward track customization. Small glitches.

The Ugly: “…not sure I’ll ever 100% understand the drifting in this damn game.”

4/2/2012 Ben Dutka

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Comments (14 posts)

Temjin001
Monday, April 02, 2012 @ 10:48:54 PM
Reply

While I'm glad it's not a bad game ( had no idea what to expect from this spin off) it's probably not the game I want to play now. I like classic RR. I suppose if there's never a true sequel to RR7 I'll just be happy playing RR7. I probably won't give Unbounded a shot unless a demo comes around.

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daus26
Monday, April 02, 2012 @ 10:52:32 PM

Oh yeah, a demo would definitely help big time. Otherwise, this game has no chance from me.

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dillonthebunny
Tuesday, April 03, 2012 @ 2:51:09 PM

i feel a demo would do more harm than good. I dont think many will play this and think instantly its brilliant, you gotta let it get under your skin, play for a few hours.. open a few districts up and then learn to drift, and bam.. it hits you!

a demo just couldnt take you there imo.

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daus26
Monday, April 02, 2012 @ 10:50:39 PM
Reply

Yikes, the driving seems like it's going to be a serious nightmare if played with a steering wheel, that is if it even supports it. I can't have much confidence with the DS3 either it seems. I need a game where my friends can pick up the basics of it quickly and this sounds frustrating at that. It's too bad though, cause game looks really fun. :/

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Monday, April 02, 2012 @ 11:04:55 PM

I really can't imagine this game with a wheel.

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dillonthebunny
Tuesday, April 03, 2012 @ 2:48:04 PM

yeah, for once those guys with the fancy wheels are at a loss... ha, in your face G27 owners.

this maybe the only time I ever get to gloat, so im taking it!

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Nickjcal
Tuesday, April 03, 2012 @ 12:11:39 AM
Reply

I'm enjoying the game myself as well, kinda wish they had gone the open world route with Shatter City, just seems like it'd be a perfect way to mesh all the different locations together better. Game seriously makes me feel like I'm in a tropical setting with its colors even though I'm in a city haha.

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___________
Tuesday, April 03, 2012 @ 5:03:36 AM
Reply

im really shocked with this!
finally for once you expect a game to be a absolute stinker and it actually turns out really well!
ive been waiting for a burnout sequel ever since paradise released.
and criterion are too busy f*cking up the NFS series so this looks like the closest thing were ever going to get!!!!!!

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frostface
Tuesday, April 03, 2012 @ 10:52:29 AM
Reply

This game absolutely IS Ridge Racer. I can't say how much of the game Ben has actually played but I've sunken more than enough hours into it to back it up. I've found in a lot of reviews around the net reviewers saying it's not Ridge Racer, heck I said it when I first started playing. But a few maps in and it can't be anything but Ridge Racer though it does take some cues from Split/Second.

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dillonthebunny
Tuesday, April 03, 2012 @ 2:45:06 PM

as discussed in the main forum, I couldnt agree with you more.

..tho I would like to add that there was some other milkmen hanging around Mrs Ridge Racers front porch that fateful summer.. that milkman from Burnout revenge was there also that young guy from the BLUR dairy.. he was sniffing about too.

I think Mr Ridge Racer was away for a few months...

I love this game!

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Tuesday, April 03, 2012 @ 8:38:38 PM

Dude...what Ridge Racers were you playing where basically the entire purpose of 2/3 of the game is to destroy everything in sight?

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dillonthebunny
Wednesday, April 04, 2012 @ 7:49:30 AM

ben, you should see me drive, I drive like a drunk. one of the reasons I like this game is because the track is actually a lot wider than first glance, just that there are destructible things there like walls.. and they get destroyed with my driving.

tho driving that behemoth was so much fun, can you fail on that? or is it just for fun? i dunno, but its the only mode that I seem to excel on.. but then crashing things is my specialty :)

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Tim Speed24
Tuesday, April 03, 2012 @ 2:57:24 PM
Reply

This game is alot of fun, Ben is correct about the learning curve but once you get the hang of it, It's truly one of the best arcade racers out there.

A Split/Second and Motorstorm Apocalypse indeed. Warning to RR fans the car does not drift on rails as in the past.

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SON oF SHAFT
Tuesday, April 03, 2012 @ 9:07:21 PM
Reply

im still on th fence, i loved S/S and the burnout series,but didn't like Motorstorm Apocalypse. Would love a demo but the brilliance of some games just doesn't register in short sessions. I guess the real question, for me at least is if its worth 60 bucks now or wait a few months till the price drop?

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